JIS News

The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is reporting a significant increase in the number of child abuse and endangerment reports made to the agency last year.
Registrar of the OCR, Carla Edie told JIS News that between January and December 2008, the agency received 3,784 reports, which was 3, 359 more than the 425 complaints received over the same period in 2007.
She attributed the increase to “persons becoming increasingly mindful of their legal responsibility to report such incidents and the genuine concern that they have for the safety of children, particularly in light of the recent violent acts against children.”
She noted too, that “more individuals are now aware of the role of the OCR as the body responsible for receiving, recording and referring reports of child abuse,” as in 2007, many persons were still reporting cases to the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
The categories of reports ranged from child in need of care and protection to sexual abuse, truancy, physical abuse, unfit adult working in a child care institution, carnal abuse, incest and neglect.
According to Mrs. Edie, the category with the highest number of cases reported was the child in need of care and protection, followed closely by neglect and physical abuse. In some instances, she said, a child was subjected to more than one form of abuse.
Mrs. Edie is encouraging persons with any reasonable suspicion that a child is being, has been, or is likely to be abused to contact the Registry by dialing toll free 1-888-PROTECT, 822-7031 or 878-2882. Persons may also visit the Registry at its 48 Duke Street office. Reports to the Registry are held in the strictest of confidence and persons making reports do not have to give their names.
“It is not your responsibility to prove that it is true. If you have reasonable suspicion, please call the Registry,” Mrs. Edie appealed, warning that, “if someone has information of suspected child abuse and fails to make a report to the Registry, that person can be charged a maximum fee of $500,000 or/and six months imprisonment.”
In the meantime, the OCR will now be open everyday, with a 16-hour workday from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Mrs. Edie indicated that there are plans to institute a 24-hour service, which will commence soon after the organisation moves to its new home at 12 Carlton Crescent in February.
The OCR was established in January 2007 under the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) of 2004. The Registry records, assesses and refers reports of children, who have been abused, are being abused or are likely to be abused.
These reports are sent to the CDA and/or the Office of the Children’s Advocate for investigation. Reports indicating clear and imminent danger to the child are directed to the JCF’s Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child abuse (CISOCA).

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